Apricot Jam

Making jam is one of the best ways to harness the flavor of apricots during their short season, to enjoy during the colder months. In this recipe, we give the fruit's natural pectin a jump-start by macerating the apricots with sugar and lemon before cooking; the acid in the lemons activates the apricot's pectin, reducing the cooking time and preserving more flavor and color. We also added a touch of vanilla to coax out the mellow notes of the fruit and balance the mixture's tartness. Apricot jam tastes great with scones or slathered on rustic bread--or swirled into vanilla ice cream. It's also the classic choice for melting and brushing over pastries and fruit tarts.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 10 min
  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups
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Ingredients

2 pounds pitted, quartered apricots

1 3/4 cups sugar

Zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (see Cook's Note)

Directions

  1. Toss the apricots, sugar, lemon zest and juice and vanilla in a large saucepan to combine, then mash slightly to release some of the apricot juice. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the apricots to macerate and the sugar to dissolve. Meanwhile, place a small plate in the freezer to chill; this will be used to test the doneness of the jam.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. (See Cook's Note for suggested add-in.) Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until the jam becomes thick and syrupy, about 35 minutes. To test doneness, place a small amount of the jam onto the chilled plate and freeze for 2 minutes. Drag your finger or a spoon through the jam. If it holds its shape and thickness, the jam is done; remove from the heat. If it's runny, continue to cook and test again in 5-minute increments. Once the jam has reached the right consistency, transfer to jars and cool completely before storing, tightly covered. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.  

Cook’s Note

If using the vanilla bean half, add the seeds and the pod to the mixture before cooking; remove the pod before storing the jam. If you're looking for a change of pace, try adding 3 thyme sprigs wrapped in cheesecloth to the mixture after macerating; remove before storing. This savory addition makes it a great glaze for grilled chicken or pork or as an accompaniment to a cheese board.